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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane Chiefs’ fans toss thousands of teddy bears for kids

Throwing objects onto the field, court or ice is normally forbidden at sporting events.

But it was encouraged Saturday night for the Chiefs’ annual Teddy Bear Toss as the Spokane Chiefs faced the Seattle Thunderbirds at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.

Fans of all ages hurled 5,175 teddy bears and other stuffed animals of all shapes, colors and sizes onto the ice after Chiefs’ right wing Yannick Proske netted a goal to put the Chiefs up 1-0 with 1:55 left in the first period.

Chiefs players scooped up some of the large stuffed animals and gathered near the center of the ice for a team photo, while fans erupted in applause after the majority of the bears were chucked onto the ice.

The players and volunteers then collected the stuffed animals and placed them in the beds and cabs of four large pickup trucks. It took no more than 15 minutes to collect the items.

The animals will be delivered to the Christmas Bureau, which is a collaboration between Catholic Charities, the Volunteers of America and The Spokesman-Review. The bears are then distributed to children who need a toy for Christmas.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the bear toss last year after a record 8,604 stuffed animals were hurled onto the ice in 2019.

The Teddy Bear Toss is popular among fans.

Jay Stewart, the Chiefs’ vice president of sponsorships and operations, said when the Chiefs’ schedule is released during the summer, fans ask about the Teddy Bear Toss so they can schedule other affairs around that game.

“It brings a different atmosphere to the building,” he said.

Cathi Brown and Joan Stewart, who both attended Saturday’s game, said the event brings the community together.

“I’ve been to other games before,” Joan Stewart said. “None of them are as fun as the Teddy Bear Toss. So this is definitely my favorite.”

Joan Stewart, who was accompanied by friends and family, said they purchased new teddy bears for the toss.

“I think it’s a cute idea,” she said of the cause. “It’s neat.”

Brown said she tries to take her grandchildren, who each had a bear to throw on the ice, to the Teddy Bear Toss each year.

“I think it’s wonderful,” she said. “I think that every child needs something. I think that we don’t give enough for our children anymore.”

She said the experience is heartwarming and it teaches children to give to other children who are in need.

“It’s the community coming together to give back,” Brown said.

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